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Demi Sun, Oct-30-11 13:15

New UK TV Series: The Food Hospital
New series examining the science behind using food in medicine, tackling patients' health problems through the food they eat.

Channel 4, Tuesday 1st November, 8pm:

The Food Hospital

In a pioneering new eight-part specialist factual series, Channel 4 examines the science behind using food as medicine. In experiments conducted following the latest scientific evidence, patients suffering from a range of medical conditions and symptoms are invited to attend The Food Hospital where they are prescribed specific food treatment programmes to find out if their health problems can be alleviated or cured by the food they eat.

At the hospital, patients can have detailed consultations with a GP, a specialist consultant related to their condition, and a leading NHS dietitian before being assigned particular foods, with advice about how to integrate them into their diets or leave them out completely. The Food Hospital follows the patients as they undertake their new food treatment programmes and attend follow-up appointments to monitor their progress. The experiments taking place at The Food Hospital, under the supervision of the medical team, aim to reveal the untold health benefits and medicinal properties of certain foods, whilst busting myths about some of the widely-held misconceptions and old wives' tales. The patients in the series have conditions ranging from common problems like chronic fatigue and eczema, and the more unusual such as fish odour syndrome and gout, to life-threatening diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and breast cancer.

The experts in the programme include: Mr Shaw Somers, Specialist Consultant Gastrointestinal and Bariatric surgeon; Lucy Jones, who is Senior Specialist Dietitian at the Whittington Hospital, North London and General Practitioner Dr Giovanni Miletto.

Online, The Food Hospital seeks to put this emerging area of medical science to the test nationwide by inviting viewers to take part in scientific studies conducted by two British universities. These will constitute valuable research into how simple foodstuffs could improve illnesses, on a national scale.

In the first programme, the doctors meet 24-year-old Lauren, who has been suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) since she was 15. Her case is so extreme, with symptoms such as weight gain, fertility problems and most noticeably, excessive body and facial hair, that Lauren fears living as a virtual recluse forever unless she can find help. Crippling migraines are destroying 7-year-old Harvey's life, and his mother will try anything to help her son. Twenty-five-year-old twin sisters Kristen and Maren are trying to use food as a weapon against breast cancer. And can 44-year-old single dad Chris turn around the world's fifth biggest killer, Type 2 diabetes, with food?

But it's not just about treating patients. Dr Pixie McKenna (Embarrassing Bodies) investigates the truth about ‘superfoods'. And The Food Hospital launches a series of ambitious nationwide ‘food as medicine' trials, kicking off this week to see if chocolate can help fight high blood pressure.

Thomas1492 Sun, Oct-30-11 13:23

I'm curious to see what WOE they prescribe for these people..Especially the girl with PCOS,considering many women have found improvement and healing through a Paleo/Primal diet...

aj_cohn Sun, Oct-30-11 15:03

I'm sure the doc.s will follow conventional nutritional dogma. Otherwise, they'd be at risk of malpractice lawsuits and facing professional disciplinary hearings.

I've had correspondence on this forum with someone in the U.S. who educates doctors about LC, and she reports that their insurance companies bar them from telling Celiac patients to stop eating wheat! (I wonder how Dr. Davis, author of Wheat Belly, gets around that?)

RawNut Sun, Oct-30-11 15:18

I guess the insurance companies don't like saving money. Low fat diets for diabetics and wheat for celiacs. Dr. Davis might not have insurance. My GP doesn't.

jmh Sun, Oct-30-11 15:22

I don't like the way they mention 'super foods'. I think often it's what you take out (e.g. wheat, grains, starch) that works but I can't see that being recommended.

My prediction? The participants will eat 'healthy wholegrain' low fat diet with superfood added. They will not heal and therefore medics will claim that diet does not improve health, so carry on eating a 'balanced' diet and take the drugs.

Thomas1492 Sun, Oct-30-11 15:26

Originally Posted by jmh
I don't like the way they mention 'super foods'. I think often it's what you take out (e.g. wheat, grains, starch) that works but I can't see that being recommended.

My prediction? The participants will eat 'healthy wholegrain' low fat diet with superfood added. They will not heal and therefore medics will claim that diet does not improve health, so carry on eating a 'balanced' diet and take the drugs.

That is my prediction also JMH,maybe they will surprise us,but I'm not holding my breath...Those in the UK will have to keep us informed here in the U.S. what goes on in the show..

leemack Mon, Oct-31-11 07:28

I'm not optimistic about this show and suspect I'll be shouting at the TV - I saw a trailer for this where they advised the kid with migraines to have low fat milk - its a double fail really - the fat in the milk doesn't cause migraines, but other things in the milk, and to not completely remove dairy for a migraine sufferer when using a dietary approach is nuts.


Merpig Mon, Oct-31-11 14:42

Originally Posted by RawNut
I guess the insurance companies don't like saving money. Low fat diets for diabetics and wheat for celiacs. Dr. Davis might not have insurance. My GP doesn't.
The nurse practitioner I see for my thryoid condition doesnt' take any forms of insurance. I think that's the only way she can manage to prescribe Armour dessicated thyroid for me, rather than the useless Synthroid which most doctors seem mandated to prescribe.

I'd still be curious to see what they say on this program however since it makes me think of this cartoon:

leemack Tue, Nov-01-11 18:49

I tried to watch this.

The first patient was a woman with PCOS, and though they didn't do the usual thing of blaming her weight, and got it right about insulin being the primary cause, they then failed by prescribing legumes, veggies and 'healthy' whole grain pasta, bread and rice. This is bizarre, as its not even controversial that PCOS requires a low carb diet - even my endo, who's pretty useless acknowledged that! At the end they stated her testosterone levels were the same after 12 weeks - well duh, with all those wholegrain foods!

I was planning on giving up at this point, but decided to fast-forward to the diabetic - who they told that the cause of his diabetes was 'fat in his pancreas blocking insulin production' (at this point I was into full Tom Naughton style 'Head. Bank. On. Desk.' mode) , so they put him on an 800 calorie a day meal replacement plan for 6 weeks - this guy was supposedly eating 5000 calories a day of processed rubbish, very high carb, so 800 calories a day will dramatically lower his carb intake - but obviously going about it entirely the wrong way. After the 6 week plan they then put the guy on a low calorie diet. Grrrrr.

Then to top it off, they approved soy for the breast cancer patient! Serious, serious fail. And also told her to avoid saturated fat. They didn't suggest DIM, and failed to mention keeping glucose intake low, recommending a 'mediterranean diet'.

I won't be watching again - just the same old dogma wrapped up with a new bow, with some dangerous advice chucked in - I mean, with breast cancer you want to keep estrogen lower - why on earth approve soy, which can raise estrogen levels.

And what will the diabetic do when he finds his blood sugars rising when he goes from 800 calories a day to a high carb low calorie diet?


Demi Wed, Nov-02-11 01:13

Originally Posted by leemack
I tried to watch this.
Well you did better than me! I switched off the moment they mentioned the 'healthy' whole grains. :rolleyes:

Pilili Wed, Nov-02-11 03:26

Originally Posted by leemack
They didn't suggest DIM

I hadn't heard of DIM yet. Learned something new. Thank you! ;)

Demi Thu, Nov-03-11 07:59

Here's what we missed:

Eat To Treat: How to find the right Epicure

Mainstream medicine is finally starting to capitalise on the huge impact that differerent foods can have on everything from our hormones to our genes, reports Meg Carter

Eat five a day to "live well". Adopt a Mediterranean diet to lower the risk of cancer. Drink cherry juice for insomnia. Eat a handful of almonds daily to tackle high blood pressure. The mountain of advice about what to eat and what not to eat grows taller by the day. Yet though championed by food nutritionists and acres of editorial, many of us still find the idea of food as medicine hard to digest.

"People tend to fall into one of two camps – food faddists and food ignorant – because so much of the food we buy carries messages about salt or fat content in the hope of nudging us towards being more healthy. However labelling foods 'good' and 'bad' has steered us away from understanding what a healthy diet is and how to achieve it," says Catherine Collins, principal dietician at St George's Hospital, London.

"Five a day has only got us half-way," believes Michelin-starred chef Chris Horridge, who develops meals to accelerate hospital patients' recovery. "We need to become more aware of how different foods impact on each other and, indeed, how different people's bodies metabolise vitamins or minerals at different rates."

The link between food and health has underpinned medical practice for generations. The laxative effect of rhubarb has been used for 5,000 years. Sage also has a long medical history, hence its use a stuffing for rich meats. In medieval medicine, physicians used wet foods such as fish to combat fever. "For many years our understanding of the human body tended towards the Victorian in its emphasis on the mechanics. Now, though, we are developing a subtler, molecular understanding of how the body reacts to different, everyday foods," says Dr Gio Miletto, a GP and co-presenter of The Food Hospital, which starts on Channel 4 tonight. "Mainstream medicine is only now coming to terms with the impact the interaction of environmental factors including food have on our health and wellbeing," he adds. So today, thanks to scientific research, we know that our hormones and blood pressure are directly affected by what we eat and particular genes in our DNA may be turned on or off in response to nutrition and the environment. By choosing our foods carefully we can have a lot more control over how well we age, how we resist illnesses and how long we can live an active life, The Food Hospital argues.

Experiences of real patients are charted in each programme in the eight-part series. In each case the programme's team of resident experts developed a scientifically-based food plan and then monitored the results. Harvey, a seven-year-old migraine sufferer with suicidal thoughts, went from having five or six migraines a week to none by avoiding full-fat milk, citrus fruits such as oranges and processed meats and increasing his intake of vitamin B2 and magnesium.

Another patient in the show, Lauren, suffers from polycystic ovaries. Though this is not a condition that can be cured by diet, by including in her diet food chosen to improve her hormone balance – more wholegrain foods, more fruit and vegetables, for example – she lost one and a half stones in weight, experienced a thinning in the excessive hair growth that's a symptom of her condition and her fertility improved. In a later episode, Sophie – a singer suffering from gastro-oesophageal reflux – is prescribed a diet designed to tackle her condition in two ways. The first was to reduce the pressure on the sphincter, which usually holds the top of the stomach closed, but which in sufferers of this disease, allows reflux back into the oesophagus leading back up to the throat. The second was to address some of the damage to her body the condition had already done.

"Different foods move through the body at different speeds – fatty foods, for example, stay in the gut longer," explains Lucy Jones, specialist dietician at north London's Whittington Hospital and The Food Hospital's resident dietician.

"We also explored ways to modify Sophie's diet that would introduce specific nutrients that can repair damage. At the start of this process it looked like she would need surgery to repair her sphincter. After ten to 12 weeks of eating differently, however, there was a marked improvement."

The series also explores how foods "work" and exposing myths, such as whether the blueberry – whose properties are now believed to include preventing cancer, reversing memory loss, reducing cholesterol levels and preventing infections of the urinary tract – really is a superfood. (Answer: no, because other fruit such as blackberries can be just as beneficial and cheaper, too, by not being marketed as a "super").

Viewers will be asked to add a single food to their diet then monitor the medical effect. These will include investigations into whether 50g of chocolate a day has any impact on blood pressure, and the effect (if any) drinking cherry juice has on insomnia. But not all of the diet plans tried in the series are successful. In Lauren's case, though her fertility improved, her testosterone levels remained unchanged. However this, in turn, is another important message. "What we are not trying to do is suggest diet is the only way forward, rather than medicine or surgery. What we do want the audience to take away, however, is that any one of us can make some relatively simple changes to what we eat and achieve significant effect," Jones adds. "As a nation we are eating ourselves to death. Our reliance on pills to protect or cure ourselves from illness, meanwhile, has become the norm. My hope is that The Food Hospital will inspire people to take greater responsibility for their own health by developing a deeper understanding of the implications of the food they eat."

'The Food Hospital' starts tonight on Channel 4. 'The Food Hospital' book is published by Michael Joseph on 10 November

Eat to treat


Acne can be helped by a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of multicoloured fruit and vegetables. Reducing intake of dairy products – which may impact on our hormone balance – can help some, but experts advise against cutting it out altogether, as dairy is a rich supply of calcium.

Colds and coughs
Though vitamin C tablets are a common, self-prescribed remedy, it's far better to get that vitamin C from food. Ensuring you are eating enough foods containing zinc – seafood, dairy, Brazil nuts, eggs and poultry – is another worthwhile defensive measure. Garlic has anti-viral properties which may also reduce the number of colds you catch.

Eating a healthy balanced diet, eating regularly – a snack at least every four hours – and avoiding dehydration can all help guard against headaches. With magnesium deficiency a common trigger for migraines, eating enough magnesium-rich foods, such as nuts, bananas, oats and beans, is one tactic experts suggest.Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Adjusting your fibre intake – low-fibre foods during bouts of diarrhoea, high fibre during constipation – can help ease the condition, as can swapping foods high in fructose and lactose for low fructose/lactose alternatives. Oily fish and flaxseed can help ease inflammation due to the omega 3 oils they contain. Live yoghurt and probiotic drinks can improve general gut health.

A high-carb snack at bedtime stimulates the release of insulin which, in turn, can help the body create melatonin, which encourages sleep. A milky drink with high levels of melatonin can help. As magnesium deficiency is one cause of insomnia, eat enough magnesium-rich foods – such as bananas, dried apricots, almonds, peas and beans.

Prostate trouble
A so-called "Mediterranean diet" – high in fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, a moderate proportion of dairy and fish, and a low proportion of meat – is believed to help protect against prostate cancer. Seafood, whole grains, pumpkin seeds and pulses are a good source of zinc, which is important to prostate health. A higher fibre diet may also reduce prostate enlargement.

Last night's viewing - The Food Hospital, Channel 4

I've had a weird allergy to Channel 4 dieticians ever since I unwisely swallowed a Gillian McKeith programme without reading the small print first. Even the sight of one can make me breathless and sweaty now, so I approached The Food Hospital with some caution.

"I passionately believe in the science of food as medicine and I want the public to know about it," said Lucy Jones, the series' resident dietician. Which is all very well but for the fact that "passionate belief" doesn't prove anything at all. The best procedure, I thought, was to follow some advice Bear Grylls once offered on how to find out whether jungle fruit is poisonous: nibble a tiny sample and then wait to see whether you get an adverse reaction before eating the whole thing. And the essential verdict is that it seems to be harmless – one of those programmes that helps Channel 4 with its public-service remit, but also allows the viewer to squat in a consultation room and gawp at the unwell.

How much good it will do, I'm not sure. The simple proposition is that improved diet can achieve results just as good as expensive medicines, and that even when it can't, symptoms can be improved. But when it comes to the prescriptions The Food Hospital doles out, there doesn't seem to be anything terribly sophisticated in the advice. Poor Lauren, who has polycystic ovaries and hirsutism (she has a beard ), was hauled into a consulting room lined with tasteful monochrome pictures of broccoli and told to give up eating sausages and cheese and replace them with pulses, vegetables and fruit. Oh, and they thought it would be a good idea if she did some exercise too. Harvey, a little boy who suffered from terrible migraines, was given slightly more specific advice about avoiding foods that might trigger his attacks. But then with Chris, who has type two diabetes, we were back to common sense. An exclusive diet of petrol-station pies and confectionery, it turns out, isn't very good for you. Who'd have thought it?

It's to the programme's credit, though, that they undermined the idea of any fast-track way to guzzle your way to better health. Dr Pixie McKenna, who we usually encounter peering at a scrofulous set of genitals in Embarrassing Bodies, gently undermined the idea of the "super-food" – a marketing ploy designed to get us to pay more for blueberries – and pointed out that nearly all fresh fruit is super if the alternative is a Twix bar and a packet of pork scratchings. And then Lauren, Harvey and Chris returned to demonstrate – visibly in the case of Lauren and Chris – that you really can achieve quite a lot in a short time if you're prepared to stick to the diet.

Chris had given himself an incentive by downloading photographs of gangrenous toes on to his mobile, a reminder of what awaited him if he strayed from the straight and narrow (very narrow, in his case, at just 800 calories a day). The food that had gone into them had achieved some of this, I'm sure, but not nearly as much as the food that hadn't gone into them. The truly effective medicine was personal determination. Perhaps Channel 4 could follow up with "Will Power Hospital".

nifty55 Fri, Nov-04-11 03:33

UK Viewer
Originally Posted by Demi
Well you did better than me! I switched off the moment they mentioned the 'healthy' whole grains. :rolleyes:

It was depressingly wrong-headed in so many ways. :agree: It made James May's Man Lab appear stunningly factual and practical on the other side! :lol:

WereBear Fri, Nov-04-11 04:03

I'm wrestling with someone on Amazon who is claiming the "Atkins diet made his heart disease worse" in my review of Wheat Belly.

Join the Wheat Belly defense!

First he claims that every instance of produce and meat is GMO'd and hormoned to the point of poison; then he says he wasn't talking about produce and lean meat! I don't know what's up with him; but it's Conventional Wisdom all the way... "everybody knows" fat causes heart disease.

It's an uphill battle.

nifty55 Fri, Nov-04-11 05:20

Originally Posted by WereBear
I'm wrestling with someone on Amazon who is claiming the "Atkins diet made his heart disease worse" in my review of Wheat Belly.

The guy hasn't even read the book! What is he doing in the review section? :doah:

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